2019 Dodgers Top 100 Prospects: No. 2, C Keibert Ruiz

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

Next up is the org’s best overall catching prospect, which is saying something because the Dodgers are stocked with great catching prospects. He checks in at No. 2, even if his numbers aren’t super sexy … yet.

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Previously

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I’ve included Future Value (FV) grades and risks for the Top 50 prospects. For example, if a guy gets a “50 low,” he has a really good chance to be an average player at his position. If a guy gets a “55 high,” there’s a good chance he won’t reach that ceiling, but the potential is there. I tend to give higher future values because I take ceiling into account. The grades are 20-80 (50 is average), and the risks are as follows:

  • Low: Players who are usually older, have debuted, are relievers and/or have higher floors than ceilings
  • Medium: Players who are a mix of younger and older, usually have higher floors
  • High: Players who are usually younger with potential, but also question marks
  • Extreme: Players who are younger with star potential, but a ton of question marks

This is to show what value a player might provide at the MLB level. The higher the risk, the less likely a player will reach that ceiling.

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Editor’s Note: I am not a scout (#notascout). I am an amateur when it comes to evaluating players. I don’t claim to be a pro, I just want to pass along the information I observe/obtain to the people. Notes and comments are based on personal observation, talking to sources, reading scouting reports and watching video. For future entries in this series: All ratings in the charts below are on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is roughly average, 80 is elite and nearly unattainable and 20 is unacceptably poor. Enjoy.

Age is the 2019 season age for the player (June 30 is the cutoff date).

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Rating Key

80 – Elite
70-75 – Plus-plus
60-65 – Plus
55 – Above-average
50 – Average
45 – Fringe-average
40 – Below-average
30-35 – Poor
20-25 – Very Poor

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2. Keibert Ruiz

DOB: 7/20/98 Age: 20 Height: 6’0 Weight: 200 Bats: Switch Throws: Right Position: C
Tools Now Future
Hit 50 65
Power 45 50
Speed 30 25
Defense 50 60
Arm 45 50
FV/Risk 60 Medium
Type of hitter: Advanced, line drive, strike zone control

Acquired: International free agent (Venezuela), July 2014, $140,000 signing bonus

Physical description: Stout, not as athletic as some catchers, strong core

Strengths: Limits swing-and-miss, great future hit tool, power and defense developing/improving

Weaknesses: Present power lacking, throwing needs improving, struggles from right side

Key statistics: .268/.328/.401, 6.3 BB%, 7.9 K%, .133 ISO

Summary: The Dodgers found a gem with a $140,000 signing out of Venezuela in the form of Ruiz. He played the entire 2018 in Double-A as a 19-year-old, so his numbers aren’t as impressive as you might think for the No. 2 prospect in the org, but he was facing competition nearly 5 years older than him (on average), so the fact that he performed as well as he did was encouraging. And while the results leave some to be desired, scouts think he’ll be an impact player behind the plate at the next level.

Ruiz carries an interesting bat. He does an incredible job controlling the strike zone, as he doesn’t swing-and-miss much. He also doesn’t walk a lot, which means he makes a ton of contact. His level swing generates line drives about 25 percent of the time. For context, that would have tied him with Paul Goldschmidt for 18th-best in baseball last season. He sprays liners all over the diamond. Where he struggles presently is elevating the ball. Ruiz’s low-30 percent fly ball rate needs to jump about 10 percent as he continues to mature and improve as a hitter. It is, after all, the organization’s philosophy to hit the ball in the air (hi, Will Smith). Scouts think if he elevates more, his strong frame will generate better power numbers thanks to strong hands and wrists. He probably won’t have the power potential of a Yasmani Grandal, but a Victor Martinez-like (with a little less home run power) offensive career path isn’t out of the question. But right now, Ruiz is more of a threat from the left side than the right, mostly because he has a hard time generating power from that side..

Where Ruiz has made the most progress is defensively. He has improved his receiving, framing and footwork each year of his pro career. He’s now an advanced framer and shows glimpses of being an advanced receiver. More consistency is needed there. His arm strength isn’t great, but his transitions and footwork should help him keep the opponent’s running game at bay. He’s also surprisingly quick for a guy his size (and not in the mold of other Dodger catching prospects). That quickness, however, doesn’t translate to the base paths. He’s a well below-average runner and won’t really add much to his profile with his legs.

Ruiz is the Dodgers’ future behind the plate. He has a chance to be an anchor for a decade. His offensive profile is something the current team lacks and his advanced feel behind the plate should lead to a long, distinguished career. He’s back in Double-A early this season but should be in Triple-A by midseason. He is on the 40-man roster, so a 2019 debut isn’t out of the question.

Spray Charts

Keibert Ruiz spray chart
Keibert Ruiz hit spray chart

Video

2018 Ranking: 2
2019 Location: Double-A Tulsa/Triple-A Oklahoma City
ETA: 2020

Next Up: Prospect No. 1

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.